Archive for film

Review: Flow: For Love of Water

Posted in business, Culture, Environment, Media, Movies, Philosophy, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2009 by 99ppp

While channel surfing, we had the good fortune to stumble upon a terrific documentary on The Movie Network : Flow: For Love of Water (TMN, DVD) which highlights the importance of our potable water and challenges our preconceptions about its treatment, abundance and accessibility. This documentary also provides a robust critique of privatization and how these huge conglomerates make exorbitant profits while limiting access to the impoverished local populations. When profit reigns supreme, it is unsurprising that control by a few of this precious resource, necessary to sustain human life, jeopardizes and marginilzes the most vulnerable whose welfare depends on it. Corporate control of potable water is not solely a concern for those in the developing world as a legal battle between Michigan citizens and a Nestle bottling plant emerges. The safety of bottled water is also challenged and the perception that is somehow better than tap water.

It isn’t all bad news as the film also presents those communities who’ve applied creative solutions in a local, decentralized, and affordable manner, showing that innovation can come elsewhere than a corporate boardroom and at high infrastructure costs. I highly recommend this enlightening film, and check out this review from the New York Times on this award winning documentary.

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Review: The Dark Knight

Posted in Culture, Media, Movies, Philosophy, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2008 by 99ppp

I was never a fan of the Batman character. A very wealthy man playing superhero with gadgets only he can afford, to foil crooks from money he obviously doesn’t lack. I preferred perpetually broke Spiderman. After hearing the phenomenal reviews and ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB, I got curious. Just how well written can a bombastic summer action blockbuster be? I tend to prefer smaller indy films with good scripts, yet decided to venture in the movieplex with the expectation that The Dark Knight was way overrated. Boy, was I surprised.

The Good Stuff
Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s screenplay and Christopher’s direction is above and beyond what viewers usually get from these action blockbusters. I am pleased that it has finally dawned on some of these studio execs that people will reward you, if you don’t insult their intelligence. Nolan’s adaptation adds ethical dilemma and alludes to contemporary issues like intrusive surveillance, torture and corruption in some of the institutions we rely so much on to get our sense of security. They also put a ruthless variation of the Prisoner’s Dilemma to add to the psychological and ethical tension. The characters are well fleshed out and the storytelling compelling.

The acting was solid, and Heath Ledger’s Joker is probably the darkest and most sinister portrayed on the screen. While his fine performance might not quite be Oscar worthy, he’s likely going to get serious consideration since it was his last role before his tragic death. Aaron Eckhart did excellent job in the role of righteous DA Harvey Dent, a performance that might be easily overlooked facing Ledger’s intense presence. Christian Bale’s Batman was competent, acting behind a mask using a raspy voice limits one’s ability to show a nuanced performance.

The Quibbles

FX and score overwhelm dialogue: This has happened in various instances where I couldn’t sort out the dialogue from the booming sounds. I’m not sure whether it was the cinema’s issue or the sound editor, but it did distract me enough to mention it.

Batman’s raspy voice: Mentioned above. It makes some sense that Batman would attempt to disguise his voice not to be recognized, but Bale’s raspy voice does not make him “creepy” and just hampers comprehension and performance. I hope that Nolan will have Bale just use his regular voice in future films and the audience will forgive that. It’s already tough acting through a mask and the voice didn’t help. We accept Superman’s ludicrous disguise (glasses), so having Bale use his regular voice isn’t a big deal.

Film still slightly overrated: #1 on IMDB??  Really?? It’s a fine film worth seeing, but I can rattle off twenty better films off the top of my head. At the moment it’s a pop culture phenomenon, and I suppose that many are so starving for fine intelligent entertainment that this film appears above and beyond what’s come out in recent memory.

All in all, it’s a good, unusually intelligent summer flick that reminded me how fun it can be to venture into the cinema. 8.5 out of 10.

On a side note, I saw the great trailer of the upcoming Watchmen movie, an adaptation of the brilliant comic book/graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The story is a thorough deconstruction of the superhero archetype. The trailer looks promising and lets hope director Zack Snyder doesn’t muck it up.

Will the New Iron Man movie Peddle or Decry the War Machine?

Posted in Anti-War, Culture, Media, Movies, Philosophy, Uncategorized, Vids with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2008 by 99ppp

As propaganda is our bread and butter here, I just saw the trailer for the Iron Man movie, and was dismayed to see few arguments against the Military-Industrial complex within it. I haven’t seen the movie, but according to the book “Comic Book Nation” :

The most political of Marvel’s superheroes was Iron Man, a hero literally forged on the battlefields of Vietnam. In his first act as a superhero, he demolishes a Viet Cong military base and overthrows a sadistic Communist warlord. As Tony Stark, he serves a vital function in America’s military-industrial complex, both as a weapons inventor and a defense contractor. As Iron Man, he foils Communist agents and battles Soviet supervillains in symbolic Cold War contests of power and will….. The Iron Man series showed the extent to which Marvel endorsed Cold War assumptions. There was little room for dissent. As Iron Man once asserted, “No one has the right to defy the wishes of his government! Not even Iron Man!”

Now replace Vietnam with Afghanistan, Communist/Soviet with Terrorist, and Cold War with War on Terror and suddenly the film may be updated to modern times while pushing the same agenda.

In fairness, the comic did take a turn and begin to question the initial premises during the early seventies and the film may take a similar approach. Yet taking a peek at the trailer below, especially Iron Man flying “majestically” alongside high-tech products of the war industry, it doesn’t bode well that the film will be a critique of the Military-Industrial Complex. For that, I recommend Lord of War, Why We Fight (documentary) .

Robert Downey Jr. is one of my favourite actors who usually picks interesting roles, and it’d be a shame if he’s compromised himself to land the big paycheck.

Here’s Eisenhower’s warning on the Military Industrial Complex:

Here’s the Iron Man Trailer: